As I look outside and see the blue skies on this March day, I’m reminded that Spring is nearly here. If you’re like me, you want to be outdoors and what better way to enjoy the return of Spring and to increase your enjoyment of birds than to go on one of our Skagit Audubon field trips.
As many of you know, Libby Mills has chaired our field trip committee for the past several years. She has taught sem-inars for North Cascades Institute for more than 25 years and also teaches at Padilla Bay and in the Methow Valley east of the mountains. But we are lucky to have Libby lead field trips for us that are free and open to all. I was on one of Libby’s trips recently and because it was a slow day for birding -- between winter and spring seasons and the singing birds were pretty sparse—Libby told us about “sub songs.” These can be unstructured or rambling vocalize-tions of young birds but they can also be sung by adult birds trying out their songs at the beginning of the breed-ing season. She also made the best of the slow birding by talking about the history of the replanting of native plants in the upper section of the Breazeale Interpretive Center, and kept us informed and that had been singing there for several minutes.
Libby has been grateful that we now have a committee of other field trip leaders (Bob Kuntz, Tim Manns, Ivar Dolph, Irene Perry and me) who meet quarterly to plan the field trips for the next few months. Looking at some of the 25 Audubon Chapters around the state, I don’t think any chapters our size come close to offering the number of field trips that we do. I was struck that we had five field trips in March – that’s one every weekend!
There are several good reasons for attending one of our field trips, especially if you haven’t done so recently. We make a serious effort to welcome new or beginning birders. The leader or another knowledgeable participant will make sure you not only see all the birds but also learn about what you are seeing. Even if you don’t know the birds very well, it’s much easier to learn the common birds on a field trip than it is on your own.
There are also good reasons to join our field trips if you are not a beginner. Because there is usually at least one other really good birder in addition to the leader, there’s a better chance of someone spotting the less common birds, and hearing and identifying not only the songs but also the call notes of these birds. Another benefit of going on field trips is that you see more birds. More eyes and ears means more birds, it’s as simple as that. Even non-experts can be really good at spotting birds.
We are offering three great trips in April. I hope to see you on one of them. We are planning to offer one trip annually outside our normal area, in addition to our long-standing trip to Klipchuck Campground, west of Winthrop in mid-June, and accordingly we are planning a trip to Okanogan County on May 30-June 1, probably centered in Conconully or Oroville. It will be led by Libby and me, and we will see many species that don’t occur on the west side of the Cascades. So put it on your calendar if you’ve never been birding in Okanogan County. It’s a real treat. Details will be in the May Skagit Flyer and on the website. I hope to see you there!